Home Latest News Flaws Found in DFAT Crisis Response

Flaws Found in DFAT Crisis Response

Vulnerable Australians detained abroad during the pandemic waited an average of 125 days to return home in 2020, a new report shows.

But insufficient data collection by the foreign affairs department prevents the court from verifying exactly how many Australians have been assisted.

Analysis of available DFAT data by the Australian National Audit Office found that vulnerable Australians who registered before September 2020 waited more than four months on average to return home.

After September 2020, it took an average of 95 days for the Australians classified as vulnerable to return.

Australians stranded in India had the longest delay between registration and their return, with an average wait of 100 days in 2020, the report finds.

Those in Thailand, South Africa, Canada, UK, Philippines, UAE and US waited more than 80 days on average.

Despite former Prime Minister Scott Morrison promising to bring all Australians home by Christmas 2020, the ministry revealed it had not discussed this date with the former government before making the announcement.

Between October 2020 and February 2022, more than $60 million was spent on contracted flights to return Australians.

The SAI issued nine recommendations to improve DFAT’s crisis management after the department’s preparations for events such as the pandemic were found to be only partially effective.

Data collection was an important point of the SAI, but the department did not adopt the recommendation to improve the crisis registration system.

The department argued that a new system launched in April 2020 was fit for purpose.

However, the court found that the system had “material deficiencies” that would continue to cause problems in keeping proper records.

While the department supported a large number of overseas Australians affected by COVID-19, the report found it was not meeting all of the government’s targets.

The report also found that the department does not have a defined framework for crisis management and preparedness policies.

The department adopted seven of the ANAO’s nine recommendations.

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